Last year, a government study reported that 29.5% of previously-convicted adults in the UK reoffend within 12 months, with 42.6% of juvenile offenders committing offences after they had been released from prison. 

However, one extraordinary local cafe has managed to reduce that number to just 2%. 

The Mess Cafe, located in Wythenshawe, is a unique establishment which offers training and employment opportunities for ex-offenders, as well as those considered at risk of offending. 

The cafe is run by registered charity the Message Enterprise Centre, who also have a popular hair salon and a thriving events business with the same motives. 

The idea of the project is to provide ex-offenders with jobs, skills, training and work experience to allow them to progress further in their new life, and allow them to reintegrate into society. 

Those partaking in the project, either referred from prisons or outreach workers, are invited on a two-year programme to work at one of the businesses, with a promise to graduate with key skills and experience.

They also come away with a certified qualification in their field, to help set them up for their second chance at life. 

Throughout their journey, participants are supported by the MEC team through one-to-one mentoring and professional life coaching, to ensure they are prepared for whatever may come their way.

“The Cafe provides stability in the day to day and long term support for the person – something that many of our team haven’t had before,” explains Ellie Dickinson, events manager for the MEC.

“When people work at the Mess Café, it’s a second chance – no one is holding them to any past offences or lifestyle, and we want to help them have the second chance in life that they desperately want.

“The Mess Cafe is just one part in a life-changing project, and the MEC has helped people get back on track for the past 15 years.” 

The Mess Cafe can be found at Harper Road, Sharston, M22 4RG.

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